Howard Marks's speech in Trafalgar Square

Howard Marks

28 March 1998


From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for being who you are and where you are. I fully appreciate how easy it is for me to stand up here, light a spliff, say what I think. Yet how difficult it is for so many of you who are worried about the effect such honesty would have on their social stigmatisation. It takes a lot of guts to come here. Look at all these cameras, all the flying pigs around taking pictures. It didn't take me any guts it took you guts, thank you.

 You can't stop people from taking cannabis. If Jack Straw can't stop his own son, how the hell does he think he's going to stop us?

 I'm speaking with total authority. It's easy to smuggle drugs into this country. It's easy to grow it.

 With most drugs, arguments about legalisation, can, I know, get a bit tricky. We simply know that drugs are more dangerous when prohibited than when not. But we unhesitantly accept that some drugs can be extremely harmful in a situation of ignorance.

 Cannabis is safer than cigarettes, alcohol or aspirin. It seems to be one of the safest drugs known to man. The only problem with cannabis occurs about a mile down the road [The House of Commons]. Where they are really very, very weird!

 This Government callously allows youth to be alienated, poisoned, imprisoned, ruined. This Government suspiciously allows gangsters to distribute natural herbs at exorbitant profits, stripping the young of their hard-earned money. This Government forces itself to lie - and arrogantly disapproves of the recreational pursuit of millions of really, really lovely people. This Government has deaf years, blind eyes and an unfeeling heart. This Government has become offensive.

 There's just some thoughts I'd like you to take home with you tonight.

 Too many of you are paying too much for crappy cannabis.. Let us use today as a networking opportunity to rectify this injustice. There is more expertise here present today than I've ever seen before in my life.

 Try not to get busted! But seriously try not to, OK, it's not fun. Take a Release card away with you.

 If you do get busted, I second what Caroline said, don't accept a caution. It's merely another was of the Government documenting your criminality. Take it to the courts, you've nothing to lose as an individual. And when the administration of justice becomes suffocated by its own madness, decriminalisation will be the Government's only remaining remedy for the appalling sinister evil and irrational drug policies it continues to implement.

What I noticed today compared to the march 30 years ago, 30 years ago we were a bunch of middle-calls academics soon to become yuppies. Now I see a bunch of working class kids. For God's sake guys, I must apologise for my generation. Talk to your parents and talk to you teachers. Sort them! Goodbye.

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